How to tell if you have a qualified travel agent

Yarisa Smith knows she has a good travel agent.

“He’s made cruises and European trips special,” says Smith, a manufacturer’s representative from Dallas. “His itineraries and attention to detail have made every trip flawless. He’s even managed to successfully intervene when acts of God have waylaid my plans.”

Yet you might not know by looking at Clark Mitchell, who works for Dallas-based Strong Travel, whether he’s the real deal. Yes, his agency is cited as a source for its travel expertise by mainstream news outlets. It also prominently lists its membership in Virtuoso, an exclusive travel agency consortium.

But until now, there’s been no instantly recognized certification that says an agent is legit. That may be about to change.

My travel agent neglected to inform me of my schedule change

When Virgin Atlantic changes its schedule, Amanda Ramirez is offered a new flight that doesn’t work for her. Had her travel agent informed her of the change sooner, she might have been able to cancel her itinerary. Now, her agent refuses to refund her money, and Virgin says it’s the agency’s responsibility. Can our advocates help her get a refund?

They missed their New Year’s Eve cruise by a whole year. Are they entitled to restitution?

Sara Zalkin planned a special New Year’s Eve celebration with her husband and 16 friends aboard the Carnival Conquest, and they booked through the travel agency Legendary Journeys. But when the group arrived to embark the ship, the Zalkins’ boarding passes were for a cruise departing Dec. 31, 2017, instead of Dec. 31, 2016, and Carnival would not allow them to board the ship.

Help! AAA abandoned us at an airport in India

Kay Kindice and her daughter traveled to India for a wedding last summer, and after a series of events, they found themselves abandoned in a foreign country. Their story and its sort-of resolution underscore the importance of finding an agent you trust, not just someone who will find you the cheapest ticket.

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